Miami Beach, city (1990 pop. 92,639), Dade co., SE Fla., on an island between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean; inc. 1915. It is connected to Miami by four causeways. Miami Beach is a popular year-round resort, famous for its "gold coast" hotel strip, palatial estates, and recreational facilities. The city's chief source of income derives from tourism. The Convention Center complex in Miami Beach has hosted several national political conventions. Cultural institutions include the Bass Art Museum, Miami City Ballet, and other facilties near Collins Park; the Wolfsonian, a museum of design; and the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center, home of the New World Symphony, and adjoining SoundScape Park.
The area was originally a mangrove swamp. A wooden bridge was built from the mainland in 1913, but development was slow until the Florida land boom in the 1920s. The glamorous hotel and vacation industry began to decline in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, large numbers of Cuban refugees from the Mariel boatlift flooded into the area, seeking its cheap accommodations. A spurt in less-expensive development along the ocean road followed and led to the influx of a younger population and to the exodus of many wealthier retirees to other resort cities in Florida. The 1979 designation of an Art Deco section of South Beach as a historic district, however, slowly set in motion an architectural revival of the city. By the 1990s Miami Beach had reemerged as a popular tourist destination. More recently there has been renewed interest in "Miami Modernism," the architectural style that characterizes the city's 1950s hotels.
See H. Mehling, The Most of Everything: The Story of Miami Beach (1960); P. Redford, Billion Dollar Sandbar (1970); B. Blumin, Miami Savvy (1989); G. Monroe and A. Sweet, Miami Beach (1989).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.